Sometimes a bellwether issue isn’t the most important issue. Abortion is more important than this week’s U.S. Senate vote on Trade Promotion Authority. But abortion is a decades-old issue that has involved many battles, and still does.
The TPA vote, which affirmed the House vote, is a clear issue that shows who’s really in power. It’s not the American people.
Last fall, Republicans were voted into majority power in the Senate, and kept their House majority, on a platform headed by promises to stop President Obama’s power grabs. But the trade deal gives him more power. It’s still secret, and it gives such power not only to the president, but to unelected foreign bodies.
It shows that the Republican leadership, in particular Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and House Speaker John Boehner, are in thrall to the oligarchs who run the party, and will benefit from the TPA. The leadership doesn’t care a hoot about the small businesses and workers who will be damaged by this managed- (not free-) trade agreement – except, of course, when election day comes around and the voters must be gulled yet again.
As a bellwether issue, the TPA vote tells us about other issues. This is why abortion, despite Republican promises to make it illegal since 1973, remains legal. After all, it was Republican presidents who appointed Justices O’Connor, Kennedy and Souter, who voted pro-abort. On the nine-member court, Democrats have appointed just four justices in the past 46 years. Republicans have appointed all the others.
Likewise, the immigration issue, which Republicans keep promising they’ll address by ending the bipartisan open-borders policy. Remember Sen. John McCain’s pledge to “complete the dang fence”? That was just an interlude during a 2010 primary challenge between his open-borders advocacy. No doubt he’ll make similar squeaks during his 2016 re-election bid.
The Republican-controlled Congress easily could pass funding for building an effective fence on the border, for once spending money on something Americans want, daring Obama to veto it. But they won’t.
Likewise with Thursday’s Supreme Court decision on Obamacare. Congress, controlled by the GOP, could end it by cutting off the funding – and daring Obama to shut down the government (for real, this time) if he doesn’t sign an overall spending bill. But they won’t.
As Sen. Sessions said about the trade vote, “Americans increasingly believe that their country isn’t serving its own citizens. They need look no further than a bipartisan vote of Congress that will transfer congressional power to the Executive Branch and, in turn, to a transnational Pacific Union and the global interests who will help write its rules.
"The same routine plays out over and again.”
The real question for Republicans is whether enough of their own “base,” betrayed again and again, will turn out even to vote next year.
John C. Seiler, Jr., writes from California.